One thing about living in California is that our weather is very different from the rest of the country this time of year. While we might be spoiled and wondering when the “cold front” is going to end (you know, when it’s 52 degrees out and the sun is shining but this is like ice weather to us), while the rest of the country is experiencing true winter weather like rain and snow and ICE.
I guess that’s how I can come up with a dessert for the holiday season that is originally inspired by a summer favorite. Some of my best memories are sitting around campfires with a huge marshmallow on the end of a stick over the fire, just ready to place it gingerly on a graham cracker topped with chocolate pieces.
I’ve seen a lot of folks adding fruit to their s’mores recently, and it inspired me to kick up my holiday treats with a wintery version of the summer favorite. But instead of graham crackers, why not some freshly made delicious, puffy gingerbread cookies? Cranberries for me are distinctive to the holiday season, basically any time from November 1st to sometime shortly after New Year’s you can find a random batch of homemade cranberry sauce in my fridge. I thought that would go well with the gingerbread cookies, and white chocolate instead of milk chocolate would be the perfect pairing to finish off these glorious holiday gingerbread s’mores.
As far as the results? Just as messy as the original. Melted marshmallows sticking everywhere, once you bite in you’re met with the warmth of the gingerbread spices combined with the tartness of the cranberries and the sweetness of the white chocolate and marshmallows.
In other words, amazing. Simply amazing. They are definitely on the sweet side, so you can even cut your marshmallows in half and use half the white chocolate and they’d still be pretty delicious. The cookies, they’re perfection on their own. But making them into s’mores really made this a new kind of decadent treat for the holidays!
Ingredients for the Puffy Gingerbread Cookies:
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Ingredients for Holiday Gingerbread S’mores
- 2 Puffy Gingerbread cookies
- 1-2 teaspoons cranberry sauce
- 1 white chocolate square
- 1 large marshmallow
Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Start by creaming the butter with the sugar on medium/low in a stand mixer. Once the sugars are thick and creamy, add the egg and mix it in. Then add the molasses and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, salt and nutmeg. Whisk together, then slowly pour a bit at a time into the wet ingredients in the stand mixer while the mixer is on a medium/low speed. Mix just until the dough comes together in a sort of solid wet texture.
Using a cookie dropper for uniform sized balls about 1 inch large, measure out the dough, then roll into a more solid ball with your hands. Roll in granulated sugar, then place at least 2-3 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Cookies will be puffy and crackly, yum! After a few minutes out of the oven, remove from the cookie sheet and place on cooling racks until the cookies have cooled completely. At this point you can store them or begin to assemble your holiday gingerbread s’mores!
It makes it easier to have all the items you need for assembly, even more fun if you do this for a kids sleepover or when you have guests over for the holidays. Get your cookies together, along with the cranberry sauce, white chocolate, and of course the marshmallows.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and add the cookies to a lined baking sheet (I prefer silicone since we’re using a cranberry sauce that will stick in the heat of the oven!). Using two cookies for each s’more you make, line them up and place a bit of cranberry sauce on one side of each pair.
Place in oven for 5-8 minutes, checking every so often (the marshmallows like to slide a bit!). The tops of the marshmallows will begin to get the golden and roasted color and the white chocolate will begin to melt. Remove from oven and allow a minute or two to cool before handling.